Kenyon Martin, Nuggets stop Kobe Bryant & Lakers: Can they get past 1st round of playoffs?

Yes, the Nuggets have been playing out of their minds since the Carmelo Anthony trade. But doubters still wondered if they could win on the road in the playoffs, or if they'd be one-and-done again. The Nugs provided a clue on Sunday, when they bested the Lakers in L.A., ending the Lake Show's nine-game winning streak. Their main weapons? Good defense and scoring from unlikely sources -- both extremely important ingredients for post-season success.

Holding the Lakers to just ninety points at home was an impressive accomplishment -- and so was the offensive balance the Nuggets exhibited. Danilo Gallinari's stroke has been ultra-erractic since he came to Colorado. But when he's on, he can be a fearsome threat, as the 22 points he registered yesterday proves. And while Kenyon Martin's defensive attributes have drawn plenty of positive comments of late, he hasn't exactly been a major scoring threat -- until yesterday, when he tallied eighteen points, with six coming during close-out time.

In all likelihood, the Nuggets will be matched up against the Oklahoma City Thunder when the second season gets underway -- and there's no doubt Kevin Durant and his fellows are a squad on the rise. Moreover, they'll have home court advantage, which has traditionally doomed the Nuggets during the Melo era. But what's happened since then has confounded plenty of so-called experts, including ESPN Radio's Jason Smith, who predicted in the immediate aftermath of the trade that Denver would miss the playoffs -- too many moving pieces, he said.

Yeah, and they're all moving in the right direction, clinching a post-season spot with their victory yesterday. Count them out at your peril.

Look below to see a clip of ESPN analyst Mark Jackson discussing the Nuggets win, and its potential repercussions for the Lakers.

More from our Sports archive: "Carmelo Anthony's house for sale: Take a photo tour of current (and future?) Nuggets' mansion."

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